The Startup Journey: Building A Website? Seven Things You Need To Think About

Written by: Josh Christy

Photo courtesy of “The Startup Journey”

Many people when starting a new site or a redesign make the assumption that a new site will drive new sales. This is rarely true, a new site can help you gain better rankings in Google or look better on mobile, but it rarely drives new sales without driving additional traffic. We’ve found that by asking a few simple questions you can avoid issues like the above plus many others. Check out these 7 things that you need to think about when designing a new site.

1. What is the goal of the site?

Are you looking to get new leads? Sell things online? Grow your brand awareness? Any of this is possible but you need to make sure that you are asking the right questions before you get started. If you are looking to drive new business, ask the person building the site what their experience is growing an email list or getting better Google rankings. Ask what are the steps that you should be taking now, while your site is being built, to better see results. If you are clear on the front end of the project, it is a lot easier to measure results once the site is done.

2. In house, agency or freelancer?

There is no right or wrong answer in terms of who builds the site. You might have a great marketing department within your business that can help get the site up and going – but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily have the ability to put a site together for you that is able to give you the competitive edge you are looking for – or that it is really even the best use of their time. Remember, one lead that converts into a client might be all it takes to pay for an external freelancer or agency to build the site for you. An agency has more resources that can help with other services such as marketing, custom development or social. A freelancer would be a cheaper option as they don’t have the same overhead as an agency. Keep all of this in mind when making your selection as price is one of the main factors in selecting an outside vendor, but keep in mind how expensive it could be if you don’t get what you are looking for and have to go through the process again.

3. Build and launch or ongoing support?

This one falls right behind content as one of the biggest assumptions that people make. If you are looking for an outside vendor or team to help you build your site make sure that you are on the same page as to who makes updates and what is included in the contract. Many vendors offer a 6 or 12 month support contract in addition to the build of the site. Make sure to ask how much time is included or what services are provided as part of the contract as well as how quickly the updates will happened when requested. There are also many companies that don’t support the site once launched, so make sure to ask.

4. Who is going to provide the content?

This is probably the biggest misassumption that we see. There are a lot of companies that can help you write the content for your site, and some won’t touch it at all. Make sure you ask if your proposal includes copywriting services or if it is on you to provide. My biggest recommendation, even if copywriting services are included, is to make sure that you provide the overall direction as to what your company does, who it does it for and why they are your client. It is a good measuring stick to make sure that your branding and messaging stays true.

5. To theme or not to theme?

Using a theme is potentially a way to save some money and time for your project. If you are looking to use a theme, or have a vendor that is recommending that they do so, make sure that you know how it can be customized for your needs. Ask your vendor or team if they have experience with using this theme before, if they don’t have experience you might be signing up for a tougher project than you think. The same goes for plugins or additional functionality on your site, make sure that you know how they work and will fit into your business goals. For example if your contact form integrates directly into your CRM, versus sending an email to your office manager. Both get the lead to you, but one is much better.

6. Backups and malware

What happens when the unexpected happens? Your site gets hacked or infected with malware, who’s responsible for cleaning it up? Are there backups of your site in case that you can’t get everything clean? These are the things that you don’t want to have to think about, but you need to know who’s responsible in case this happens. In the same way that you should ask your provider if they are using a theme and familiar with it, does your provider have experience with cleaning up a hacked site. This transitions into our final thing, hosting and ownership.

7. Hosting and ownership

Many times the provider that builds the website doesn’t host the website. If they do ask about who owns the hosting account, are you paying them and then they pay the hosting company? This might not seem like a big deal, but what happens if your web provider goes out of business? Does your website suddenly get taken offline? This is the same for who owns the intellectual property of the site and who’s responsibility is it to store the backups of the code. Make sure that you have direct access to the hosting at all times even if you don’t need it right now.

Are you planning on tackling a new website project? Download our free checklist on how to make an apples to apples proposal comparison at

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Josh Christy is the founder of "The Startup Journey" blog, which he started to help fellow founders step around some of the holes he's fallen into.